The second half of the PlayStation 4 NPL Capital Football 2017 Season begins this weekend as Round 1 match-ups return.
Monaro Panthers v Canberra Olympic
Canberra Olympic will look to maintain their lead at the top of the PS4 NPL when they face Monaro Panthers at Googong on Saturday.
Both sides come in off the back of FFA Cup action, with Monaro going down to Tuggeranong at Woden and Canberra Olympic having triumphed over Canberra FC at Deakin. The Panthers are still looking for their first win, but may struggle in this fixture, having lost 5-2 in Round 1 of the NPL.
Lloyd Hewitt’s side had the week off in the league last weekend but will now face the test of two matches inside three days. How they recover from Thursday night’s fixture will be a big indicator of whether they can get anything out of this match.
For Olympic, this match is a chance to capitalise on Canberra FC’s loss to Gungahlin last weekend, which kept them in the lead with a match in hand, but a loss or draw would let Canberra FC get a foot back in the door. Olympic have not lost now since Round Two against their fierce rivals, and that matchup next round could prove pivotal.
For this match too, the visitors should have too much class for the struggling Panthers side, and will likely come out of this with a win. However, with 13 cards in the round one matchup, both sides may not come out unscathed.
Riverina Rhinos v Canberra FC
As they travel to Griffith on Saturday, Canberra FC will be looking to keep pressure on Canberra Olympic at the top of the PS4 NPL table.
Last weekend’s loss to Gungahlin United set them back, and while they sit only two points back of Olympic, their rivals have a game in hand. FC will be without Thomas James for this trip after he was dismissed in the FFA Cup loss on Thursday Night, and Kofi Danning may come into the starting line-up instead.
While the travel may be difficult, this match-up in Round 1 finished as a 7-0 win for Canberra FC and they should return back to Canberra with three points.
For the Rhinos, an 8-2 belting in the cup last weekend by Tuggeranong United was something of a reality check, and they are back at home at least this weekend. They face the side who gave them a rough welcome to the league back in the opening round, and will be itching to put in a better effort in front of a local crowd.
A strong result here would be the perfect way to begin the second half of the season, but it will need a much improved performance at the back, and also going forward, over that Round 1 effort. If the Rhinos can cut out turnovers and prevent the visitors forwards getting in behind the defence, then they will have a much better shot in this contest.
Woden-Weston 2 (Ibrahim Khodary, Danel Crkovski) def. FFA Centre of Excellence 1 (Louis D'Arrigo)
Woden-Weston picked up their second win of the season on Thursday Night, as they defeated the FFA Centre of Excellence in their rescheduled fixture. Goals to Ibrahim Khodary and Daniel Crkovski in the first half set the Wanderers up for the win, with Louis D'Arrigo's second-half strike not enough for the youngsters to come back.
Tuggeranong United v Tigers FC
Tuggeranong United welcome Tigers FC to Kambah for this sixth v seventh clash on the table. While that sounds close, Tuggies are eight points adrift of Tigers, and anything other than a win here could be a big blow to the home side’s chances of getting back in the chase for the Top Four.
Spirits are riding high after the club progressed to the FFA Cup Qualifying Final, and Aisosa Ihegie is in imperious form having scored six goals in the last two matches. A solid performance here against an improving Tigers side can pull Tuggies right back up towards their opponents, but anything else spells trouble for them in the long run.
For Tigers, a come from behind win last weekend against Woden-Weston was a sign of a team improving on their average start to the season, and Gaby Wilk’s men will look to show more of that in this matchup.
Nicolas Abot’s hat-trick in that game showed that he can be a genuine target up front after Stephen Domenici’s departure, and another flurry of goals would be perfect for him to begin the second half of the season. After the side struggled mightily early on, including some heavy losses, they now sit just one point outside the Top Four and a victory here would be a big statement, especially depending on the results of other matches.
Gungahlin United v Belconnen United
In Round 1, Belconnen United demolished Gungahlin in a 4-0 victory at McKellar Park, seemingly setting the tone for the season ahead. However, in the last few weeks, it has instead been Gungahlin standing up to be counted, culminating in a massive 2-1 win over Canberra FC at Deakin last weekend.
They now sit only one point behind FC on the table, and only three points off first. They come into this match on the back of a two-match winning streak in the league, but will need to take on Belconnen differently to that round one fixture. In that match, the home side were fast, clinical and ruthless and if Gungahlin begin to open up as they did in that match, then it will spell trouble.
For Belconnen, last weekend’s 94th minute loss was a stinger, particularly having played well for most of the match. It also knocked them back outside the top four, a cruel blow following the momentum they had been building only weeks prior. Beginning the second half of the season on the front foot is crucial, and they will need to do it against a side that is gathering steam of their own.
If they can take on United in the same way they did in Round One they have a great chance, but to allow the home side to slow the game down and to play on their strengths will be something to avoid.